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Does the name Dajuan Wagner sound familiar? It should. He was the brightest basketball star to come out of Camden ever but injuries and illness derailed his once promising career, so where is he now. FOX 29's Iain Paige went to South Jersey to find out.
Dajuan Wagner is the best high school basketball player New Jersey has ever produced. The talented guard scored over 3,400 points Camden High School including 100 points in a single game!
“It's hard to score 30 points in a game especially high school its only 32 minutes.” Arthur Barclay said.
Once New Jersey's brightest basketball star, he averaged 42 points a game as a senior at a school that has produced its' share of NBA players and big time scores. Wagner was so good Camden High named its court after him.
“I've never seen nobody like him,” Chad Hallet said.
As a senior in 2000, “Juanny,” as he's known to his friends, was the top recruit in the country. Wagner went to the University of Memphis for one year averaged 21 points a game then declared for the NBA draft where he was the 6th pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But Wagner was bothered by injuries and health problems and after 3 years the Cavs didn't exercise their option on his contract and Wagner was out of the league. The golden state warriors picked him up but he only played one game with them and then the player once known as the Messiah disappeared.
Dajuan now works out 5 days a week he works out at adrenaline sports performance in Cherry Hill N.J.
With his trainer Chad Hallett and guy Ikpah Hallett, who trains college and pro athletes, says Wagner is almost ready to return to the NBA.
Wagner is working hard to get all of his strength back but he never lost his ability to shoot, it's a gift he was born with.
“Basketball always came easy to me it's just like riding a bike,” he told FOX 29.
A lot of people wonder what happened to Wagner, not many know he had several knee injuries and in 2006 was diagnosed with colitis and had to have his colon removed. Wagner says enduring that life changing procedure was a challenge he never expected.
“That's the toughest thing in my life, a lot of people don't know what it is it's hard.....it's hard to live with,” Wagner said.
Arthur Barclay is a City Councilman in Camden and has known Wagner since middle school. They played together at Camden High and at the University of Memphis.
Barclay says Wagner was a ray of hope for the city of Camden, a city with a bleak history of crime and poverty. Barclay says it would mean so much for the city of Camden to see their messiah back in the NBA.
There is no mystery about Wagner's game he's a gifted offensive player always has been and believes he can still play in the NBA.
“The NBA game right now fits my game a lot of teams play 2 small guards at the same time,” Wagner said.
Despite all of the setbacks, Wagner says he's not bitter about his journey.
“I just look at it everything happened for a reason the time I missed basketball I got to spend time with my kids
One of the reasons Wagner wants to come back now is so his 10 year old son Dajuan Junior can see him play
“He's saying stuff to me crazy stuff like you should be playing so I'm going to give it a shot,” he recalled.
Wagner knows he's always had the city of Camden on his back but he embraces that role
“I hope I can give them a treat. I'm going to keep working,” he said.
Wagner is 32 and hopes to play in Puerto Rico this summer and hook up with an NBA team in the fall. It would be incredible to see him back in the NBA.